Few artists can boast an A-list reputation like Maxim Vengerov’s. Like only a handful of classical musicians, this superstar violinist’s blazing talent and irrepressible charisma have made him a household name. With his priceless “ex-Kreutzer” Stradivarius in one hand, and the legendary Jascha Heifetz’s bow in the other, Vengerov’s glittering career, spanning 30 of his 40 years, is more star-studded than a planetarium’s ceiling. He has also been immortalised through an epic discography, comprised of celebrated and award-winning accounts of close on 100 works.

It might seem reasonable therefore to assume that a man possessed of the kind of skills that send ordinary mortals wild might display the temperament commonly ascribed to the ultra-famous: that of the arrogant egotist. Yet as Vengerov speaks to me on the phone from Paris, I’m struck by how charming, unguarded and, above all, how humbly down-to-earth he is. For the next hour, with a kind and generous enthusiasm, he will tell me about the highs and lows of his three decades in the spotlight as well as revealing something of the man behind the music.

“I always thought it was very special to be a musician,” he tells me recalling his childhood as a recognised...

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